Sunday, December 27, 2009

Merry Christmas updates

Well this past week I've built and tested the Rear Logic Display circuit with mixed results. The LEDs work, but the PIC Flasher circuit didn't. I'm not sure why. It may have gotten damaged from too much handling. I'll have to run some test (staring at and pleading with it mostly) before I can conclude it is wasted. Luckily I have two of these flasher kits so I was still able to test the LEDs.

Also, I got in the mail the motor that makes the head turn.
You just put a wheel on the axle and place the tread up against the inside rim of the Rockler bearing. Then you plug the motor into a small speed controller which then connects to the R/C receiver. I still have to get the wheel and rig up a way to mount the motor.
Ironically, this motor came from a surplus store in Orlando Florida, the city where the convention will be.


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Collecting time

So I've mostly figured out what parts I need and how I'm going to assemble them. Thus far I'm going to be using:

The CFSound III sound control board to playback the R2 sound clips,
The 12ch RF remote system to activate the CFSound III,
The Sabertooth 2X25 Duel Motor Speed Controller for the feet,
The SyRen 10 Speed Controller for the head motor,
2 NPC 2212 DC motors for the feet,
1 Pittman GM9236 DC motor for the head (ordered),
1 12V Gel-Cel Battery,
1 homemade automatic control circuit for the head/sound (in progress)
1 Spektrum DX6i 6 channel 2.4Ghz radio control system with the BR6000 bot receiver
1 set of JAG steel outer/inner foot shells (ordered).

Some have already been ordered, while the rest must wait until I hvae saved more money. I have most of the parts for the automated circuit and will start that when the last piece comes in.

For the front/rear Processor State Indicators, because they run on no more than 9V, I need to add a voltage regulator to their power supply to reduce the voltage from 12V to 9V. For this I also need just one more part which is on order.

The JAG steel feet will be mailed to me sometime in March of 2010.

That's about all for now.


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Tickets on Sale Now

Today is the first day tickets for Celebration V were on sale, so I bought a four day pass and booked a hotel near the convention center. Man, I can't wait for this.

I've started working again on the Logic Displays, cutting the fiber optics and making the circuit for the rear set. I've also started making a list of parts I'll need for the automated stuff. I found a circuit designed by Master Droid Builder Senna to randomly trigger the head motor and the sound device. I've already got some of the parts for it, waiting on the rest to arrive by mail. Still need to get the motor for the head, the sound device, and a rechargeable battery for everything. All requires money, so I'll be getting this stuff a little at a time, but should have it all long before August.

Can't wait for this winter weather to blow away to spring so I can get back into the shop.


Sunday, December 6, 2009

Here's the plan

I've finally finalized the color scheme I'm going to use for R6-C9, pictured below. This is it. Final. No going back. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.
It'll be a "gun-metal" kind of color. I know what I want it to look like, but how to achieve it I will have to learn. So if I get to paint any parts before C-V, this is the color.

Other decisions: I have decided (for the most part) what features I will focus on getting done and what I will save for after the convention. I am going to focus mostly on the head; getting the skin on it, installing the lights, etc, as well as hopefully getting some automation going for the head turning and talking. If you read my very first few blog postings (2005), I was wanting to make R6 just an automated display and then build another droid with all the tricks (most likely R2-D2). The plans for R6 have evolved several times since. To date, I think I want to be able to drive R6 around by remote, but also be able to leave him standing still while talking and turning his head when someone gets close enough to trigger an IR sensor. So the automated stuff I want to have working by Convention time. As for the body, I'll have it assembled with the legs and maybe skins attached. I've just ordered a set of steel foot shells for the feet. I'm not going to setup the motor drives, just have some temporary wheels installed so he can stand up.

So, in review, by convention time R6 will:
Have a mostly (if not fully) skinned head with lights
Have a completed body frame with legs and temp feet and maybe body skins
Have working automated sound and head rotaion

A small list, but still a big job to do. Hopefully, no, I will have all of this done in time.

I must be crazy.


Thursday, December 3, 2009


Today officially announced the dates and location for the next Star Wars convention, Star Wars Celebration V (5). Click here to see the news on

It will be in early August in Orlando Florida. I've never been there so this will be fun, and it'll be a whole lot easier for me to travel there. I missed Celebration IV, but not this one. I will have R6-C9 on display there, ready or not. Hopefully I'll at least have him on his own feet.

I'm still going to take a break for the winter because of the cold and stuff, but as soon as it gets in the 50's again, I'll be making saw dust. Dude, I've got planning to do. The Club is already buzzing about this. I've gotta move it, move it.


Saturday, November 28, 2009

One last time

As luck would have it, the temperature today was in the high 50's so I went back to the shop to try and finish the parts for the version 2 body. I was able to get all the vertical ribs cut to size and they are mostly ready for glueing (except for one or two little details left to cut). This time however, I'm not glueing anything until I have test fitted all the frame parts with all the detail parts plus the skins in case I need to redo a part or some other kind of modification so everything fits where it should.

That's all. Hope you had, or in my case, are still having a thankful Thanksgiving, hope you survived Black Friday (or avoided it in my case), and don't forget that Christmas is now less than a month away. Aren't the holidays fun?!


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Closed for the season

Didn't really do anything today except for checking some measurements for cutting out the vertical ribs. It's getting really cold in the shop now so as of now I'm halting all major shop work until it gets warmer....being Indiana that might be next week, ha ha.

But don't worry. There's still plenty I can work on at home. There's still all the electronics to buy and/or make, working on the aluminum skins, and buying hard to make parts. Speaking of which, I recently put in an order for several plastic parts that would be near impossible to make by hand with the tools and knowledge I have. I'll post pictures of these things when I receive them.

That's about it. Have a happy Thanksgiving.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

R6 Body, version 2

Got a much earlier start today so i got a lot more done. I had a template from the version 1 body still and since its diameter and vertical rib positions are correct, I used it again to remake all the ribs.

After cutting out two 3/4" disk, three 1/2" disk, and one 1/4" half-disk I placed the template on top of each one and, using a router with a 1/2" x 1" router bit with guide wheel, I cut the rib slots out. The next two pictures are a before and after example.

Three 1/2" disk at 18" diamter.

I don't believe I've shown this before. This is the router bit with the guide wheel. The wheel is the silver ring below the blade. You can get these in several sizes and with the wheel above or below the blade.

Cutting out center of ring #2. Gotta have room inside for all the wires and junk.

These are all the pieces I made today.
All that's left to make is the vertical ribs, the top and the bottom disk. Then it's test fit, test fit, test fit! I do not want to have to remake all these parts again.

It's starting to get really cold here in Indiana (49 degrees F today). The shop is at my Grandparents house in their garage and it gets cold in there during the winter. As such, I will be taking a winter break from shop work until late February or March when it will be warm enough to have the garage door open. I'm going to try to finish building the new body before it gets too cold, but no promises. During this time I will work on other things like the electronics and prepping the aluminum skins for painting.


Monday, November 16, 2009

Prep work

Ok, first things first. Let's get the insert installed into the center ankle.

Ok, moving on. I didn't get much done today except to confirm what I need to change for the v.2 body frame and acquiring additional material. I got 4 boards of 1/8" MDF at the Home Depot to use for the Shoulder Horseshoes. The Horseshoes are the extra material on the Shoulders, more on that another time. I also got some new router bits at Lowes and a new router at the Wood Craft wood working store. Turns out one of the employees at Wood Craft makes Star Wars costumes. Him and another employee there geeked out when I told them what I was making with the new router.

Once I got back to the shop I took the clamps off the 2nd leg and TaDa! Just a few more details to add and I can start painting.

Before I get rid of it, I tried the aluminum skins on the v.1 body. Good news is it nearly fits. Bad news is I still have to remake it. I also discovered that the body is a tad too short. You can see the skins rising a little higher than the top of the body.

Left side. Flat area cut right but as I said before a rib on each side is not perfectly vertical.

Right side. Is supposed to look like the left side. Oh well.

I also tried the skins with the body template I used to match all the rid slots. It fits perfectly which means I got the diameter correct at 18". Also it appears the vertical ribs are positioned exactly where they need to be.

I'm off this Wednesday so I'll be back in the shop cutting out new pieces for the v.2 body. I might even try to make a template for the Shoulder Horseshoes.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Got Skins

Thursday I received the laser cut aluminum body skins for R6-C9. They are of course exactly the same as R2-D2. Only difference between an R2 and an R6 is the head. The skins come as an inner pair and an outer pair. This is so the panels looked recessed where needed. They will require a lot of prep work. First I have to remake the body frame to fit the skins. Next I'll have to cut out all the panels on the outer and some off of the inner set which will depend on whether or not certain panels will open like in the movies. Once the panels are cut out and the burs are filed down I can start painting the outer set. The inner set will be screwed down to the frame and then the outer set when ready will be glued to the inner set. It will require a lot of work and a lot of time.

These are pictures of the skins. Nice huh? The outer skins are on the left side of the picture. The first picture is the front inner/outer and the second is the rear inner/outer.

Tomorrow I will take the skins to the shop and start measuring to make the version 2 body. I'll also try it on the version 1 to see how close I got.
Until then,


Sunday, November 8, 2009

2nd leg and deformed body

Through a series of insane events, I will have an additional day off for the first 3 weeks this month, so I will be using this extra time to do more work on R6-C9. To follow is said extra work from last week.

Glue is dry. Looking good, don't ya think? Still have lots of details to add, but the core of the leg is now complete.

Thought this would be a good point to drill the ankle pivot holes where the feet will attach. Used a 1/2" drill bit and the Mark V in Drill Press mode.

I inserted a metal tube into each ankle for added strength when the feet are attached. These have a 1/2" outer diameter, 3/8" inner diameter, and are 1" long.

Drilling ankle pivot hole into center ankle.

Forgot to buy a metal insert for the center ankle; will get one next time.

I have also glued the other leg together. Now I have a complete set of legs.

Now about the body. With the legs at the point where I can mount them to the body, I started working with it to do just that. However I noticed a few errors. First, each side of the body is not flat up and down, it is sticking out at an angle. Second, there are 2 flat spots on each side where the legs fit that aren't matching each other. Both issues require replacing a few parts including the entire bottom ring of the body. Doing this would likely result in further damage to the body. As such, I have regretfully decided to scrap the current body and build a new one. The lesson here is to always measure twice, test fit many times, and glue together at the last moment.

As luck would have it, a Club member has made a run of laser cut aluminum body skins for a reasonable price. Mike Senna and Victor both used these same skins to measure and fit the parts for the body frame, so I'm going to do the same. As soon as the skins arrive, I'll start remaking the body. In the meantime, I'll keep working on the legs, getting all the detail parts made and attached.

Until next time,


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Circuit test

So here's the video I was talking about. Earlier this year I remade the Processor State Indicator circuit but I never got around to testing it to ensure it worked. Well last night I tested it. See the results below.

Now I just need to make a 2nd one for the rear lights.


Monday, November 2, 2009

More shoulder work

Recently I was reading all my previous postings and realized how much my plans have changed for R6-C9 since I started. Originally I planned to just have him as a stationary display that would talk and turn it's head when someone came close. Later I decided to add feet motors so i could drive him around. Much later I decided to give him the works, but just recently subtracted some features (2-3-2). He's also gone through 3 color changes, from white/orange to yellow/black to white/green. Even now I'm still considering other color options. Just goes to show that there are few sure things in this world....especially with hobbies.

Went to the hardware store and got extra 5/16" x 2" hex bolts and T-nuts. I did get that one stuck T-nut off after using two big wrenches and a lot of elbow grease.

The shoulder flanges with 4 newly drilled holes each in the center.

2 electrical outlet box cover plates with new holes drilled.

Used the eight 1/4" x 2" hex bolts plus nuts. Note the electrical plate on the back side (used for extra support.

You'll want to saw/cut off the extra length of the bolts so they don't interfere with anything else inside the leg, mainly the shoulder hub. I used a simble hacksaw.

Shoulder Flanges mouted to the legs. I'll need to saw off at least a half-inch of the outer bolts so I can glue on the outer leg panel.

Without the flanges.

So here's why all the extra hardware. I'm using a 3/4" gas pipe to connect both legs through the body. Now the other guys use a 3/4" on one leg and a 1" pipe on the other with one pipe inside the other, but they are a really snug fit and I don't want to spend hours at the hardware store test fitting pipes. I have a couple of ideas on how to use a 3/4" pipe on both legs, but I'll be waiting until later to test it out.

After about half a year I am ready to glue the legs into one whole piece. I only have enough clamps to glue one leg at a time.

Tomorrow I'll have a video to show you. And that's all I have to say about that.


Monday, October 26, 2009

Shoulder Bones

I didn't get as much done today as I wanted to, but even a little is more done than before.

Before I get started on what I did today, I have decided that R6-C9 will not sport the 2-3-2 leg transition system. I made this decision because I'm worried about the stress to the wood frame, the cost of all the mechanical parts, and because I'd rather focus on just getting the droid built. I'll probably make a 2nd droid and maybe with that one I will put in the 2-3-2. Right now, let's keep it simple for the rookie ;P

Today I focused on the Shoulder Flanges. I mentioned in the last post that I made the flanges too big, so today I corrected that by trimming the flanges down to the correct size. Remember, if you make a mistake, make it too big.

Look closely and you can see the drawn circle. This marks how big the flange should be, 6-1/4in diameter.

The back side of one of the legs. I drew the 6-1/4" circle to show where the flange would be and the smaller circle is a 4" circle that needs to be cutout. Not sure how I will do that.

The version 2 flange in position.

All these parts are for connecting the flange to the shoulder and for connecting the pipe that will join both legs together. This pipe will be running through the body.

I am using instructions from another droid builder name Victor who also has a blog detailing how he built his first R2-D2 from start to never-will-be-officially-done (you'll always be making improvements). He has some great insight (mainly from learning the hard way) on getting some of the hardest stuff done. I'm using his Leg Tutorial which is based off of Mike Senna's method. I highly recommend Victor's blog over mine for better detailed guidance. His blog's address is

Where the six lines meet the drawn circle is the drilling point.

Drilling the mounting holes for the flange to the leg's shoulder.

Inserting the bolts. Using 6 5/16in x 2in hex bolt with 1/2in head and washer.

Those are "T-Nuts" the bolts are screwed into. The T-Nuts are pulled into the wood as you tighten the bolts. This way you can undo the bolts and re-insert the bolts without losing a secure fit. This idea comes from Mike Senna: Droid Master.

Sadly, one of the T-Nuts's teeth bent while I was inserting it and now is won't come off the bolt. Not sude what to do about this without damaging the flange and leg. Stay tuned to see how Droid-Boy gets out of this mess, same droid time, same droid channel.


Last week's work and beyond

So besides last weeks pictures I also found more pictures from the summer still on my camera.

The glue is now dry.

Two halfs of a leg. Still have a little trimming to do plus research before I glue it into one whole piece. The research is to see if there is anything more I need to do to the leg that would be easier as two pieces.

2nd leg pieces being glued.

2nd leg now at same stage as the other leg.

Showing off how it will look when glued.

Flip side of the 2nd leg.

Ok. That's it for the summer. Now onto last Monday.

One of the legs still needs the "arm pits" routed out (I did not name it, that's what the Club calls them). You can see the pencil outline of where I will be cutting.

"Arm pits" done. Came out real nice. Note how close I came to running out of wood on the inside. If I ever make wooden legs again, I'll make the center layer thicker in that area.

Rough cut circles for the Shoulder Flanges. I only need 2 but made 4 to be safe.

Smoothed Shoulder Flange. Unfortunately I made them too big. I will have to re-cut them to the correct size next time I'm in the shop.

The Shoulder Flange is the silver metal you see between R2-D2's body and shoulders.